Today at PyeongChang 2018: Thursday 22 February
On the ice today, the women’s ice hockey final, the men’s curling semi-finals, the short track men’s 500m, women’s 1,000m and men’s 5,000m relay finals take centre stage. On the snow, meanwhile, there are gold medals to be won in the women’s Big Air, men’s Alpine skiing slalom, the women’s Alpine Combined, the women’s biathlon relay, the team relay large hill/4x5km in Nordic combined, and the men’s ski halfpipe final.
Snowboard, women’s big air: 9:30 local time
The women’s snowboard programme comes to an end with its newest event. Launching themselves down Alpensia’s ramp - at 49 metres, it is the largest in the world - competitors have three attempts to impress the judges with their gravity-defying tricks and slick landings. Austria’s Anna Gasser has dominated the scene in recent times, winning the Olympic test event here a year ago, claiming the 2017 world title in Sierra Nevada (ESP) with a maximum 100 points and sweeping all before her in this season’s World Cup. Hoping to make life difficult for her will be Sochi 2014 slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson of the USA and her compatriot Julia Marino, not to mention Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi, Norway’s Silje Norendal and Japanese duo Reira Iwabuchi and Myiabi Onitsuka.
Alpine skiing, men’s slalom: 10:00 and 13:30 local time
Fifth at Vancouver 2010 and second at Sochi 2014, reigning world champion Marcel Hirscher is hoping to carry his recent dominant World Cup form onto the Olympic stage and end his long wait for gold. Heading up the rest of the field will be Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, Hirscher’s fellow Austrian Michael Matt (the younger brother of Sochi 2014 champion Mario Matt), the Swedish pair Andre Myhrer and Matthias Hargin, Luca Aerni of Switzerland, France’s Alexis Pinturault and Italy’s Stefano Gross.
Alpine skiing, women’s combined: 11:30 and 15:00 local time
Comprising a downhill leg and a slalom leg, the combined is a supreme test of all-round skiing ability, with the speed merchants looking to open up a big gap on the first run and the slalom specialists hoping to stay close so they can make a charge on the second. A select few athletes are all-rounders, such as Germany’s now-retired Maria Höfl-Riesch, who placed fifth in the downhill and third in the slalom to win gold at Sochi 2014, while Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener produced a similar performance, finishing seventh in the downhill and second in the slalom to land the world title in St Moritz (SUI) in 2017. Holdener and her compatriot Michelle Gisin should be in the frame this time, along with the USA’s world No1 Mikaela Shiffrin and Italy’s Sofia Goggia and Federica Brignone. A highly unpredictable event, it is impossible to guess who will stand tall on the podium.
Freestyle skiing, men’s halfpipe: 11:30 local time
Crowned ski halfpipe’s first-ever Olympic champion in Sochi four years ago, David Wise has regained his status as leader of the US pack following a superb season so far. This is no mean feat, considering that Aaron Blunck is the 2017 world champion and Alex Ferreira has been on fine form. A silver medallist in 2014, Canada’s Mike Riddle is another genuine contender for gold, as is France’s Kévin Rolland, who took the bronze in Sochi. Following a qualifying round in which competitors each have two runs, the top 10 go forward to the final, where they each have three attempts, with their best scores deciding the final standings.
Ice hockey, women’s final: 13:10 local time
The USA were the first winners of the women’s Olympic ice hockey competition when it was added to the programme at Nagano 1998, while Canada have taken all four subsequent golds. The North American neighbours have contested the last two Olympic finals and, remarkably, every single IIHF Women’s World Championship final - a sequence that stretches back to the inaugural tournament in 1990. Victory in the last four of those world finals has gone to the USA, who, led by their star attacker Hilary Knight, are determined to climb back to the top of the podium. So it is no surprise that the two rivals face each other again today in the final.
Nordic combined, men’s team relay large hill/4x5km: 16:30 and 19:20 local time
Reigning Olympic champions Norway and 2015 and 2017 world champions Germany are the two favourites to win a competition that begins on the H140 hill at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre. The ski jumping points earned by the four members of each team are converted into seconds to determine the starting intervals for the relay race, which takes the form of a pursuit. Austria, Japan and France have all figured on World Cup and World Championship podiums since Sochi, and could take centre stage in an event that produced a truly thrilling finish four years ago.
Short track: men’s 500m, women’s 1,000m, men’s 5,000m relay: 19:00 local time
There are numerous contenders for the men’s 500m crown, including home trio Seo Yi-ra, Hwang Dae-heon and Lim Hyo-jun as well as China’s Wu Daijing, the Sochi 2014 silver medallist and this season’s overall World Cup winner over the distance. Hungary’s Shaolin Sandor Liu, Samuel Girard of Canada and the Netherlands’ Sijnkie Knegt are all potential medallists as well. It’s a similar situation in the women’s 1,000m, where Republic of Korea stars Choi Min-Jeong and Shim Suk-hee will vie for the title with Canada’s triple Olympic silver medallist Marianne St-Gelais and her compatriot Kim Boutin, Italy’s PyeongChang 2018 flagbearer Arianna Fontana, Great Britain’s Elise Christie and China’s Fan Kexin. The day’s third final is the men’s 5,000m relay, with Canada, the Republic of Korea, China, the USA, Japan and the Netherlands all expected to be in the running for gold.
Biathlon, women’s 4x6km relay: 20:15 local time
With Laura Dahlmeier a permanent fixture in their quartet, Germany went unbeaten throughout the 2016/17 season, winning the world title in the process. Dahlmeier and her team have continued their fine form by recording two wins in three events in the run-up to PyeongChang 2018. Their one defeat came at the hands of France in Oberhof (GER) on 7 January this year. Defending Olympic champions Ukraine should also be in contention, along with Italy, Sweden, Norway and the Czech Republic. In the relay event, competitors each have three spare bullets at the two shooting stands (the first prone, the second standing). Should they fail to clear all their targets, they must perform a 150m penalty loop for each one missed. Thanks to this exciting format, the result is often in doubt until the anchor skier has completed their second and final shooting round.
Elsewhere at the Games…
With the round robin stage now complete, the women’s and men’s curling competitions continue with the tie-breakers, followed by the men’s semi-final, which begins at 20:05 local time.
In snowboard, meanwhile, the women’s and men’s parallel giant slalom qualification rounds get under way at 12:00 local time.